Professor who headed Coke-funded obesity group steps down

DENVER (AP) — A University of Colorado professor who came under fire for heading an obesity-fighting group funded by Coca-Cola is stepping down from his executive director position at the university’s wellness center.

James Hill announced his resignation from the Anschutz Health and Wellness Center Friday. He said in a statement he intends to continue his own research in obesity and weight management.

A representative for the University of Colorado said Thursday Hill remains a professor at the school.

Hill initially faced criticism last year after The New York Times reported that Coca-Cola Co. helped fund the Global Energy Balance Network he headed. The newspaper reported over the summer that the group emphasized physical activity over calorie reduction for losing weight.

The Global Energy Balance Network said on its website that Atlanta-based Coke had no input into its activities, but emails subsequently obtained by The Associated Press showed the world’s largest beverage company helped pick the group’s leaders, edited its mission statement and suggested articles and videos for its website.

After the contents of the emails were published, the group announced it was disbanding.

Since 2010, Coke has said it gave $550,000 to Hill that was unrelated to the Global Energy Balance Network. A large part of that was for research, but the figure also covered travel expenses and fees for speaking engagements around the world. It did not include money from Coke’s overseas divisions, or industry groups that the company funds, such as the American Beverage Association.

Hill’s resignation was first reported by The Denver Post.

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Information from: The Denver Post, http://www.denverpost.com

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